Israeli archaeologists protested at the Knesset on Tuesday against a government decision to convert part of an archaeological park at the base of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount into a pluralistic prayer space, arguing such a move would inflict irreparable damage to historic remains.

“Converting the site into a prayer space will prevent adequate preservation and management of the finds,” Israel Antiquities Authority chief Yisrael Hasson told a meeting of the Knesset Education Committee.

“We think this decision harms the archaeological [finds],” he said, but added that if the government does push ahead with the plan to build a non-Orthodox prayer section beside Robinson’s Arch, the IAA wants to be involved to help minimize damage. […]

At the end of Tuesday’s meeting at the Knesset, the committee resolved that the platform was built without a permit, and in violation of the law, and called upon the state comptroller to investigate the government’s decision to erect it.

It also called on the relevant archaeologists to weigh in on the possible impact on the park. Further, it seconded the Antiquities Authority’s call to strike a balance between preserving archaeological remains and developing the site within the confines of the law.